1 Corinthians 1:10, the translation ‘all speak the same thing’. What was the apostle Paul talking about?

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Many bible-versions have in 1 Corinthians 1:10 such wordings as “that you all speak the same thing”. Some preachers have then quoted that phrase, and said that it is they who are to decide what that “thing” is. In other words, they have demanded people to follow men and men’s teachings (dogmas, doctrines).

But what was the apostle Paul talking about? What was the context? This article takes a closer look at that passage and matter.

1 Corinthians 1:10 in its context.

A casual bible-reader could easily misunderstand 1 Corinthians 1:10, because of the phrase “the same thing” which many translations have there. – Let us keep in mind that the apostle Paul wrote in Greek. His wording (verse 10) does not contain any word for “thing” but only the expression to auto which translates as “the very one”, “the same”. Even the Latin text of the Vulgate has simply id ipsum, “the same”. And then: The context talks about Jesus, and not about some “thing” or dogma. Let us begin in verse 4:

1 Corinthians 1:4 I return thanks to my God always for you, for the grace of God given you in Christ Jesus; 5 That in every thing we were enriched in him, in all the word, and all knowledge; 6 As the testimony of Jesus Christ was made firm in you: 7 So that ye are not wanting in any grace; awaiting the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 Who also shall make you firm even to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God faithful, by whom we were called to the communion of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 10 And I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same, [a] and there be no divisions in you; and ye be set in order in the same mind and in the same knowledge. 11 For it was manifested to me concerning you, my brethren, by them of Chloe, that there are contentions with you. 12 And this I say, that each of you says, I truly am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you? or in Paul's name were ye immersed. 14 I thank God that I immersed none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 15 Lest any should say that in my name I have immersed. (SMITH, note sign added)

a Many translators have added to verse 10 the word “thing”, making it to “that you all speak the same thing”. Some translations have, “that you all agree”. But, what is it that the saints were to be in agreement about? The teachings of some preacher, 2000 years later? Obviously not.

Verses 11–15 show that the apostle was correcting the saints in Corinth, because they had begun to look up to men, instead of looking up to Jesus and following Him and His teachings.

In this connection, let us consider Jesus’ clear words to his disciples, regarding how many leaders they were to have:

Matthew 23:8 “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 “And do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 “And do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. (NASB77)

Those words of Jesus make even 1 Corinthians 1 easier to understand.

The article esa068.htm considers the matter of “spiritual authority” – that is, the question, who can speak for God? The article esa087.htm takes a closer look at the word and concept “doctrine”.

1 Corinthians 3:3.

The above-quoted 1 Corinthians 1:11–12 shows that in Corinth, some had begun to look up to some specific person. (A note: That verse does not mean that Paul, Apollos and Cephas [Simon Peter] would have been in disagreement in regard to what Jesus had taught.)

In chapter 3, we read how the apostle Paul wrote more about that matter:

1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brothers, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, as to the childlike in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink and not solid food, for ye were not yet able. But not even yet are ye able, 3 for ye are still carnal. For whereas among you is envy and strife and divisions, are ye not carnal and walk according to man? [b] 4 For while one may say, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal? 5 Who therefore is Paul and who is Apollos? But rather helpers through whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to each man. (ACV, note sign added)

Paul was correcting those people, because they had started to look up to each their “favourite” person, instead of all looking up to Jesus.

b Verse 3 – the Greek text has the wording ouxi sarkikoi este kai kata anthrôpon peripateite which can be interpreted as “are you not carnal, and follow a man”. Again, the problem which 1 Corinthians 1:10–15 and 3:1–5 refer to, was that some people in Corinth had begun to look up to men, instead of all together looking up to Jesus and following Him and His teachings.

Here, some might ask, “But how can we know what Jesus taught?” Well, the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record many of his teachings. Even the epistles record some of that, as echoed and relayed by the apostles. In short: The New Testament is the source we have, in that regard.

(In that connection, a word of caution: One must keep in mind that all bible-translations are produced by men, and contain bias and error and all too often even purposely twisted things. – If you have been subjected to dogmas which claim that some particular bible-version has all things right and has no errors, make sure to read the article esa037.htm.)

The article ega027.htm has some notes on keys to deeper understanding of the Scriptures.

2 Corinthians 4:5.

Again, 1 Corinthians 3:1–4 record how the apostle Paul was correcting people in Corinth, because they had begun looking up to men. Let us consider verse 5.

1 Corinthians 3:5 Who therefore is Paul and who is Apollos? But rather helpers [c] through whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to each man. (ACV, note sign added)

c “Helpers”: The Greek text has diakonoi, plural of diakonos which meant “servant”, “attendant”, “aider”.

In an other letter to Corinth, Paul emphasised that matter, by using the noun doulos, “slave”:

2 Corinthians 4:5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves [Greek doulous] because of Jesus. (HCSB, comment added)

“We are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord” – it is reasonable to assume that Paul was actually saying this:

2 Corinthians 4:5 For we do not proclaim ourselves [as lords] but Jesus the Messiah as the Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake.

Here, Paul called himself and his companions “slaves”, putting emphasis on the fact that it was Jesus who was the saints’ Lord and Master, and not anyone else. Keep also in mind Matthew 23:8–10 which was quoted earlier.

The concepts ‘clergy’ and ‘laity’.

Here is something the apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Corinth:

2 Corinthians 1:24 Not that we be lords over your faith: but helpers of your joy. For by faith ye stand. (TRC)

But, what do we see today? Churchmen divide people into “clergy” and “laity”, and some even claim that “lay people” must not try to understand the Bible by themselves but should leave scriptural things into the hands of some “spiritual leader” who “interprets” things for them. They claim that people must follow and obey men (a “clergy”) and the dictates (teachings, doctrines, dogmas, tenets, creeds) which that “clergy” produces.

Here, it is good to know that the concepts “clergy” and “laity” are of Catholic origin and are not biblical.

The Old Covenant had its mortal priests, but with the New Covenant, things are different. Many churches have priests, but the saints had only one priest, the resurrected Jesus.

The article esa077.htm has more on the matter of “clergy” and “laity”. And again, the article esa068.htm considers the matter of “authority” in regard to biblical or spiritual things – the question, who can speak for God?

See also the “recommended reading” section, below.

Please send or mention the address to this site to others. You can also link to these pages. The address to the table of contents page is biblepages.net/articles.htm

Recommended reading here at the Bible Pages, on related as well as other matters

An explanation of the short names for the bible-translations that are quoted or mentioned at this site. → esa095.htm

What does the Bible say about authority? Who has biblical, spiritual or religious authority? Who can speak for God? → esa068.htm

What does the word “doctrine” really mean? Likewise, what is the meaning of the terms “dogma”, “creed” and “tenet”? → esa087.htm

On the King James translation. The story behind king James’ bible, including the men who were involved in producing it. → esa037.htm

Easy keys to deeper understanding of the Scriptures. → ega027.htm

On the words and concepts “clergy” and “laity”. → esa077.htm

Whom should one listen to, in regard to spiritual matters? → esa056.htm

What does the Bible say about ordaining or ordination? How did the saints choose their elders? Were those elders “ordained”, and did they function as “priests” of some kind? → eea027.htm

What does James 3:1 mean and refer to? → eaa077.htm

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